MOORLACH UPDATE — Webster Guillory — September 10, 2014

There is some disappointing news about the County’s elected Assessor. I have had the pleasure of working with Webster Guillory for my entire two-decade detour in public life. I started working with him when he was an assistant to the former Assessor, Brad Jacobs. The Treasurer-Tax Collector, Assessor, and Auditor-Controller need to work closely and professionally. It is rare when all three, who are independently elected in most counties, do work together well. In Orange County, we did. Webster has served with distinction and it is a shame to see something of this nature occur after his many years of service to the residents of Orange County. Of course, everyone who is charged is innocent until proven guilty. Consequently, Webster has my support as he addresses the matter that is the topic of the first two pieces below, in the Laguna Niguel-Dana Point Patch and the OC Register, respectively.

The third piece is from the Voice of OC and is also in the OC Register. The exchange between the employee union representative and the Board Chair is worth a watch if you wish to view yesterday’s meeting on the County’s website. Trying to make the stretch from an agenda item to procure medical professionals, when they are available for brief shifts in the jails, to claiming that the County is not being transparent does not seem to hold water. But, it still received some media attention, so the stunt worked. And, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

D.A.: Orange County Assessor Faked Signatures to Get on Ballot

Webster Guillory is charged today with filing false nomination papers in his re-election bid in the March primary election.

By Penny Arévalo (Patch Staff)

Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory was charged today with filing false nomination papers in his re-election bid.

Guillory, 70, of Newport Beach, is due to be arraigned Friday on three felony counts, Senior Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon said. He is expected to be released on his own recognizance.

On March 7, the deadline for filing nomination papers for the primary, Guillory gathered signatures on two petitions while an associate gathered and collected three full pages of 10 signatures each, Zimmon said.

Guillory signed his name on two of the petitions collected by his associate — falsely claiming he had collected and witnessed the signatures — and allegedly asked another colleague to sign a third petition falsely, Zimmon said.

Guillory’s attorney, John Barnett, said his client did not knowingly file any petitions with false statements.

“The circumstances surrounding the filing will clearly show there was no knowing filing of an inaccurate document,” Barnett said. “It’s just that simple, really. He didn’t file a document knowing it had any errors on it.”

Guillory is scheduled to face Claude Parrish, a former chairman of the state Board of Equalization, in a November runoff election.

Guillory faces up to four years and four months in jail if convicted, according to Zimmon.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said Guillory rushed to gather signatures because he had planned to retire, but no one surfaced to challenge Parrish, who Moorlach characterized as “quirky.” Guillory was pressured by various civic and business leaders to run for another term, Moorlach said.

“So he’s convinced to re-run two days before the filing period, so he does the drill and then runs around getting signatures,” Moorlach said.

Moorlach criticized the prosecution of Guillory.

“Is this the kind of stuff we should be going after?” Moorlach said.

“I just see a guy who’s very, very professional who’s done a great job as assessor. This is no way for someone who contributed to the community to come to the close of his career. It’s kind of a clerical thing. It’s not like he took public funds and it’s not like he benefited personally.”

In July, Orange County Supervisors approved an ordinance prohibiting elected leaders from gathering election petition signatures from county employees on county property during office hours. Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who spearheaded the legislation, said the investigation of Guillory partly inspired the ordinance.

–City News Service

Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory charged with false filing

Official didn’t personally witness signatures being collected, though he signed the form saying he did, according to the DA.

BY SEAN EMERY and TONY SAAVEDRA / STAFF WRITERS

Prosecutors charged Orange County Assessor Webster J. Guillory on Tuesday with filing false nomination papers, alleging that during his re-election bid, he claimed to have personally collected signatures on petitions that were circulated by an associate.

Guillory, who has served as county assessor since 1998, is facing three felony counts of filing false nomination papers, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Newport Beach resident Guillory, 70, who had previously planned to retire after his current term before having a last-minute change of heart, is gearing up for a November run-off with challenger Claude Parrish. In the primary election, he received 46.4 percent of the vote to Parrish’s 44.2 percent.

As an elected official, Guillory can’t be removed from office unless convicted. He is the first county elected official to be criminally charged since Sheriff Mike Carona in 2007.

Guillory’s attorney, John Barnett, said his client simply made a paperwork mistake.

“He did not file a document which he knew to be inaccurate,” Barnett said. “He is a longtime public official who did not commit any crime and I think the evidence will show that.”

Guillory could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Supervisor John Moorlach, who called for Carona to resign, said things are different for Guillory than Carona.

“I see an honest guy who has been asked by a lot of influential people in this county to rerun,” Moorlach said. “This is just kind of a silly mistake with a form. I’m not excusing it, I just don’t have all the facts.”

According to prosecutors, the charges stem from the nomination papers and the 20 valid signatures from registered voters that candidates are required to file to the county Registrar of Voters to qualify for the ballot.

The form includes an affidavit at the end of each page of signatures, which the person who collected the signatures is required to sign to indicate that they witnessed the signatures being written. The candidate does not necessarily have to be the one who collects the signatures, but whoever the person is who does collect them, they must also be the one who signs each affidavit.

Investigators believe that on March 7, the day of the filing deadline, Guillory and an associate were both collecting signatures. Authorities say Guillory collected collected 11 signatures on two petitions, while an associate gathered 30 signatures on three petitions.

Prosecutors allege that Guillory signed his name on the affidavit for two of the petitions collected by his associate, falsely claiming he had witnessed the signatures from the voters being collected. They also allege that he had another colleague “falsely sign” the third petition gathered by his associate.

“Shortly before the end-of-day filing deadline, Guillory is accused of fraudulently filing the three nomination papers at the Registrar of Voters, knowing the information each contained about who had personally circulated the petitions and collected the signatures was untrue,” according to the DA statement.

A “confidential complaint” led the DA’s bureau of investigation to look into the signatures, authorities said.

Authorities expected to release Guillory on his own recognizance. He is expected to appear in court for an arraignment Friday.

If convicted, Guillory faces possible sentences ranging from probation to up to four years in jail, prosecutors said.

It isn’t the first time in this election cycle that Guillory’s signature gathering efforts have drawn scrutiny.

Election foes earlier this year criticized Guillory for gathering the required signatures from his own employees. Of the 30 signatures he turned in, 26 matched the names of employees in his office who are listed in the county government directory.

Guillory responded that the signatures were collected from outside the building during employees’ break time. Several election lawyers previously told the Register that while fundraising in county offices is illegal, their didn’t appear to be a law banning signatures from being gathered there.

Staff writer Martin Wisckol contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7939 or semery

Unnamed Medical Providers Sparks Debate at Supervisors Meeting

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

A $6.4 million proposed county contract to provide unidentified doctors to the Health Care Agency Tuesday drew intense fire from union leaders, who protested what they see as a continued lack of transparency on county contracting.

County supervisors staunchly defended their contracting efforts, and the contract, saying union officials are misrepresenting the issue.

The contract for medical, dental, behavioral health and other providers was up for a vote by county supervisors on Tuesday. But none of the vendors are listed in the staff report or attachments, including on the proposed contract itself.

Supervisors ended up voting 4-0 at their meeting to approve the master contract. Supervisor Todd Spitzer was absent.

Before the vote, union leader Jennifer Muir told supervisors the lack of information about the contractors speaks to the need for greater transparency for county contracts with private entities.

“This just isn’t a whole lot of information,” said Muir, assistant general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.

“It’s a blank check.”

Unions have been leading calls for more openness around private contracts, in light of a recent ordinance opening up public-sector negotiations and a grand jury’s call for an ethics commission in Orange County.

A recent grand jury took issue with the county’s private contracting.

Meanwhile, county supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson said there isn’t anything the supervisors know that isn’t included in the staff report.

“If no one knows it, it’s not a transparency issue,” said Nelson.

Muir responded that supervisors were voting on something they don’t fully know about, and that a grand jury’s recent call for an Orange County ethics commission is something taxpayers should be demanding.

Nelson replied with an example.

If he gives his son $20 to buy burgers, Nelson said, “I don’t know which place he’s going to go, and I don’t care.”

County health chief Mark Refowitz told the board that the master contract enables officials to fill in gaps when county doctors aren’t available.

After the master contract is approved by the board, he said, the providers are chosen on an as-needed basis throughout the next year.

They need to be licensed doctors, and their medical licenses are vetted, he added.

A federal agreement requires that any medical providers hired by the county Health Care Agencies go through a screening process, have their licenses checked and undergo compliance training before they see patients.

Supervisor John Moorlach asked if county Health Care Agency managers have a list of names for the vendors.

HCA staff responded that the list is often changing and that the provider population is relatively small.

“It’s really an on-call list,” said Janet Nguyen.

“Personally it’s actually quite offensive to me to continue to make the claim that…somehow we know something more than the public when we don’t,” said Nguyen.

Nelson wondered if the identity of vendors and hours worked would be made public.

“Anyone who wants to know is welcome to know?” Nelson asked Refowitz.

“Correct,” the health director replied.

Since Monday afternoon, Voice of OC has been asking the Health Care Agency for the names of the medical providers who have been chosen over the last year under the current contract.

Additionally, the news agency has asked how the agency ultimately chooses the vendors.

The information will be made available Wednesday, according to agency spokeswoman Deanne Thompson.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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